Origins, bassic changes and “By royal decree” – an interview with Roine Stolt

Roine Stolt is a household name within the progressive rock community. From his early days with Kaipa, the singing guitarist has made himself a name with supergroup Transatlantic and foremost his own band The Flower Kings. On a February night, Roine spoke to Daniel Reichberg about that band’s beginnings, their imminent live shows and new album “By royal decree”, to be released on March 4th. 

How would you describe The Flower Kings to a newcomer?

– Well, we’re a Swedish band formed in 1994. Our music is based on 60’s pop, 70’s rock, fusion and progressive rock. You’ll find modern influences as well, although what we focus on are strong melodies.

What is compelling with prog rock?
– When I started with Kaipa in the 70’s, prog rock was very trendy! But apart from that, I remember hearing The Beatles’ “Revolver” album in the 60’s, then noticing the way they developed onto “Sgt Pepper’s lonely hearts club band” and the white album, incorporating feedback, backwards guitars and Indian instruments. This had a serious impact on me as a kid, and then came King Crimson and Frank Zappa, bands like Vanilla Fudge who could start with a simple melody, then develop into classical music or heavy metal. I also loved The Allman Brothers with their fifteen-minute jams. Then I went onto bands such as Yes and Genesis. I guess it helped that my uncle was a jazz pianist and that my mother played some piano too.
Fast forward to 2022. The Flower Kings seem to have found a steady line-up, but suddenly bassist Jonas Reingold is being exchanged to previous bass guitar player Michael Stolt. What happened?
– It’s a simple story. Jonas was offered a steady job as bass player with Steve Hackett (ex-Genesis), and we couldn’t sit waiting for him. During covid days, Steve’s number of gigs have accumulated, so we would’ve had to wait for a very long time. Michael was a natural choice, since he is very acquainted with the old material. On our new album “By royal decree” they play 50/50. I made that choice out of solidarity with Jonas. I didn’t want to cut him off too abruptly. Perhaps I was a coward….
The Flower Kings have announced a number of gigs in Sweden, Canada, Norway and England (www.roinestolt.com) as well as playing the star-studded Cruise to the Edge. How will Michael deal with material connected to Jonas’s bass playing?
– Good question! Apart from the new stuff, we will be concentrating on early material, which Micke originally played on. Things such as “Stardust we are”, “Compassion, “Big puzzle”…. Furthermore, Sony Records will be re-releasing our records on vinyl and CD, starting with “Back in the world of adventures” (1995) in the summer.
Over to “By royal decree”. I’ve understood that some material is older than the band itself. Judging by the way they sound, I guess “Open your heart” and “Revolution” are among those?
– You’re wrong about “Open your heart”, but parts of “Revolution” are from way back in 1991. Same with “The great pretender”. “World gone crazy” and “Blinded” are old ones as well. The latter may have been planned for the “Flower power” album (1999). Other old stuff are “The soldier” and “We can make it work”, which I may have offered to Transatlantic on one date or the other. One could assume it’s all due to writers’ block, but it’s not like that at all. When I sat remixing the old records I came to the self-understanding that the earlier albums sounded quite different to the latter ones. The latter ones may have been more professional with a better sound, but they lacked character and identity. I’ve been searching for songs which sound like Roine Stolt or The Flower Kings. If they sound like Kansas or Neal Morse Band, I’m not interested. I think I wrote differently, twenty years ago. More folk music and Swedish tonality.
When we talked during the “Desolation rose” days (2013), you said many earlier fans were missing their old “hippie Flower Kings”. Are they now getting back what they’ve been hoping for?
– To a certain extent. I mean, I’ve never been a depressive junkie, but back then I needed to write dystopic songs. Basically, I improvise lyrics in the studio, often keeping the first things which cross my mind.
Why do you always release double albums?
– Haha….it’s never planned that way. Except perhaps when we followed up the double “Stardust we are” (1997) with another double “Flower power” (1999). Me and our then-keyboardist Tomas Bodin joked we were the kings of double albums! This time around, we could have released a single record, but what songs would we choose? All members would favour different tunes, so better release the lot.
Finally, you mention ex-keyboardist Tomas Bodin. Have you heard his all-new music for the old silent movie “Nosferatu”?
– I haven’t, but it’s not by low interest. I rehearse a two-hour set for the Flower Kings at this moment, as well as a four-hour set for Transatlantic. Add to that the hassle of getting US visas, and I’m busy from morning to night. Usually I try to relax in front of the TV at night, but I drift into sleep. Off course I will listen to Tomas’s music. I’m sure it’s great.
https://youtu.be/BZEv8zSdmFA

Origins, bassic changes and “By royal decree” – an interview with Roine Stolt

February 19, 2022

I've been searching for songs which sound like Roine Stolt or The Flower Kings. If they sound like Kansas or Neal Morse Band, I'm not interested. I think I wrote differently, twenty years ago. More folk music and Swedish tonality.

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